Digital transformation takes a village. We often think and speak about this massive organizational endeavor through one lens or another, depending upon our personal perspectives or role. For example, different people focus on digital transformation through lenses such as customer experience, strategic reinvention and advantage, digital products, business efficiency, change management, technology enablement, and more.

While every single perspective is critical for success, the perspective that is usually missing is that of the whole. Digital transformation is a metamorphic change for an organization.[1] It requires every business function/discipline and role to have a holistic understanding of where the organization is, where it is going, and how it will get there – and how their role uniquely contributes to the outcomes.

Successful digital transformation is interdisciplinary.

The Value of Interdisciplinary Collaboration

Imagine building a house without the collaborative effort of skilled professionals such architects, general contractors, project managers, construction workers, or inspectors. Or, imagine receiving a medical procedure without the interactions and insights from different specialists such as a general practitioner, surgeon, anesthesiologist, and pharmacist.

The same interdisciplinary collaboration that we take for granted in other industries is a necessity for digital transformation. In digital transformation, the players include every business function from strategy to sales and marketing to customer care to finance. It also includes every discipline that designs, translates, and delivers change, including human centered design, business and IT architecture, organization design, organizational change management, business process management, solution architecture and delivery, and many more.

An interdisciplinary approach involves the collaboration and integration of knowledge, methods, and insights from multiple functions and disciplines to address a complex problem or question. This approach helps organizations to:

  • Build the capacity to effectively deliver change: to turn strategies and business direction into a coordinated set of actions on a continual basis
  • Create a comprehensive understanding and shared mental image of the future state that the organization is transforming to, synthesized across different disciplinary perspectives
  • Prevent inefficiencies and disconnects that could lead to fragmented or inconsistent experiences for customers or employees, build duplicate or conflicting solutions, or create rework or unnecessary complexity

A Comprehensive Approach to Transformation

How can these various teams be brought together for collaborative digital transformation? A few key actions that organizations can take include creating a cohesive framework for transformation, sharing a common view of the future state, and aligning accountability and motivation.

A cohesive framework for transformation needs to provide a view of how change is defined and delivered from end-to-end. The scope goes beyond any individual frameworks such as those for strategic management, initiative delivery, or the methodology for any single discipline. This includes formulating business direction; translating that direction into a coordinated set of changes to aspects of an organization’s people, process, information, and technology; planning and delivering initiatives and solutions; and measuring the business value and outcomes provided in the end. A cohesive transformation framework should include a high-level process that defines each step along with the key outcomes and how the different teams interact to deliver results. Some organizations communicate this framework through a transformation playbook that is shared across teams.

Teams can also be aligned by sharing a common view of the future state. An organization’s business architecture[2] provides a holistic set of high-level blueprints that can be used to represent what the future state business environment will look like after transformation (with interim views as applicable). Technology views can be overlaid on top of these business blueprints to show how it will enable the business model, capabilities, value streams, products, and stakeholders in the future. Other disciplines can provide more specific views such as to represent the future state customer experience and journeys, or organization or process designs. In addition, teams can also be united by sharing enterprise-wide imperatives such as a digital transformation manifesto (see the Digital Transformation Manifesto by the Institute for Digital Transformation[3]) and/or set of customer experience principles.

While the two steps above go a long way to creating collaborative, interdisciplinary digital transformation, another effective course of action is to align accountability and motivation. Part of the challenge is that different teams often report to different leaders, which may create different or competing priorities or disconnects in how teams interact and exchange inputs and outputs. One way to address this is for key disciplines such as those mentioned above (e.g., human centered design, business architecture, organization design, etc.) to report to a common leader in a transformation or strategy execution function. Minimally having transparency and executive accountability for the end-to-end process is critical to the successful delivery of digital transformation outcomes.

In summary, digital transformation takes a village, requiring many different teams and roles to work together to achieve an organization’s goals. Considering the scope of business, technological, and human change, digital transformation can’t possibly succeed unless every person has a clear picture of where the organization is going along with how they contribute and work with others to help deliver on that future. Organizations that take a coordinated, interdisciplinary approach to digital transformation will not just succeed today, but build the muscle for delivering continual change to thrive in the future.


[1] Please see the definition of digital transformation within the Digital Transformation Manifesto by the Institute for Digital Transformation:

[2] Learn more about how business architecture enables digital transformation here:

[3] Please see the Digital Transformation Manifesto by the Institute for Digital Transformation:

Tag/s:Business Transformation, Digital Enterprise, Employee Experience, Manifesto, Organizational Change,